Open Night – Open Classrooms

It was ‘Open Night’ at Hawkesdale P12 College . Families with students who are in year 6 are invited to come to our school, experience our friendly and welcoming community, take part in some classes and listen to stories from our students. These stories share what it is like for them to be at our school and it is hoped that the grade 6 students will come to us in year 7 – our first year of formal secondary schooling.

The science lab is converted into a wonderland of experiments, robotics are on display, cupcakes are decorated in the home economics centre, ceramic pots are quickly moulded and in the computer lab there are interactive connections to Russia and South Africa using skype.

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Parents and students were split into two groups. The first group were to play mystery skype with Tatyana Chernova from Moscow, Russia. First, Tatyana gave some clues as to where she lived. She had stacker or Matryoshka dolls to share over the web camera. She then showed us two wooden dolls in traditional costume. One parent immediately identified where Tatyana was from, based on her name!

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The amazing veiws from Tatyana’s home (as seen through the webcameera)

We hung up on the skype call. Tatyana swapped from her home computer to her mobile phone, walked outside and showed us the amazing views from her home. We could see the expansive artificial lake, with the River Moksva to the right, the tall buildings of Moscow centre in the distance and even more fascinating the football stadium where the world cup will be played next year. What  amazing sights to see. Thanks Tatyana! If time permitted, Tatyana was going to share a presentation with us. If the call failed, I would have been able to share this with the group.

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The second group had a different mystery skype educator – Steve Sherman who was at a Science Fair near Durban, South Africa. He had found a quiet spot with wifi to connect with us. Students asked many questions (only with a yes/no answer) and finally worked out where he was from. He then proceeded to give them some maths brain teasers, by sharing his screen and the prepared slides. Students had to think of  a number between 1 and 63.

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By following a number of slides, stating whether the number could be seen, Steve worked out the number that Layla had thought of. As we applauded Steve, the pictures he took of us started to come through in the skype chat.

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It was wonderful to work with these two educators and parents were amazed with the connections that are possible. It is easy to take for granted the wonderful outcomes that technology can bring to learning!

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Group photo that Steve Sherman took of us from Sth Africa!

Digital Literacy

Tonight, I presented for Eduwebinar in an online session on the topic of Digital Literacy, Skill Development and Curriculum Connections. This is a huge area for discussion, but demonstrates some of the literacies that I think are important.

See the presentation

Sea turtle research and conservation at Gnaraloo, Western Australia

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Sometimes it is difficult to get expert speakers into my classrooms, as my Australian time zone means that while we are at school, the USA schools and many businesses, museums etc are closed.  So, it was with delight that I was alerted to a Sea Turtle research and conservation program at Gnaraloo, Western Australia, offering presentations through Skype in the Classroom.

I booked their Skype LessonSea turtle conservation where the outback meets the sea: Gnaraloo, Western Australia“.through the Skype in the Classroom website. Received a prompt reply confirming that they were able to present on the day and time requested.

turtle species

We added each other to our contact in skype. Did a test skype videoconference call, one hour prior, then direct called when the year 7 ICT class was in session.  Alistair Green was the presenter and he did a fabulous job, by introducing himself and effectively displaying his desktop so we could see the images and the video clips that he had added.

He made the lesson interactive by asking questions of the students, his pictures were colourful and engaging and the short video clips enabled us to see the turtles in action. The videos played in real time. Even though students would answer softly at times, it was surprising how well Alistair could hear us.

If you are looking for an expert speaker on conservation Alistair and the Gnaralaoo Research comes highly recommended for students of any age.

images of turtles

 

Anzac Day Dawn Service

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ANZAC day, 25th April, has become increasingly acknowledged amongst Australian people and  is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. It is a public holiday for all, shops cannot open until after 10am to allow the many services and marches by past servicemen to take place.

At 6am, despite the steady rain, 100 people or so gathered at the Hawkesdale Streetscaping Area in the main median strip of Hawkesdale to attend the annual Dawn  service for Anzac Day. The members of HADDAC (Hawkesdale and District Action Committee) are primarily responsible for the organisation of this service.

The service was led by Mr John Ralph, Assistant Principal, Hawkesdale P12 College with readings by the Hawkesdale College School Captains and the lowering and raising of the Australian flag by the Hawkesdale Scout Group.

We were reminded that this day was a time to recall all those who served in war, not only the survivors but those who did not return. Information on the Attack on Beersheba and  the major events impacting on Australia from World War 2 1939-1945:- the Battle of Singapore 1942 and the bombing of Darwin. Note it is the 75th Anniversary of World War II.

This was followed by

  • the Reflection Poem – Ode to the ANZACS by K K Liston
  • Reflection of the Centenary of World War I (1917) and the 75 Anniversary of  World War II 1942
  • Wreath Laying by community representatives
  • The Ode
  • The Last Post played by James Baudinette
  • One Minute Silence
  • Reveille or Rouse on the Bugle
  • The National Anthem

Our flag remained at half – mast until 12 noon. HADDAC, Hawkesdale Scouts and the Hawkesdale Memorial Hall committee offered a cup of tea/coffee, sausages in bread and Anzac Biscuits immediately after the service.

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Learning from the chill of Yukon, Whitehorse, Canada

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Our second linkup with Kate Leeming was a fascinating one. Students are seeing history being made. Kate videoconferenced in to us from minus 15 degrees in Whitehorse the capital of northwest Canada’s Yukon territory to us where we are experiencing 30 degrees in Victoria. Kate had just arrived in the chilly weather (-10 degree) of Yukon, Canada. Polycom Video conferencing equipment was used to videoconference her in from the home that she was staying in.

This is our last videoconference connection before Kate sets out on her bike riding trek across the Arctic circle. Kate is an Australian adventurer who will be the first to ride her bike across the Arctic. The video and audio was clear. She explained how she actually arrived in Canada before the time that she had left Australia.  Kate talked about her specially built bike.

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She talked about her preparation for the Arctic bike ride, showed us her fat bike, the first of its kind in the world, specially made by an engineer in Pittsburgh to cope with . Kate also talked about the special clothing requirements and need for layers and different fabrics. When she sweats it is important that her sweat does not freeze. It was particularly interesting to see her show objects such as the fat wheels of her bike, the special hat and mittens and boots etc. Three schools across Victoria linked in to the presentation with each school being given an opportunity to ask a question.

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Bayley, from our school asked:  “What gave you the idea to ride across snow and ice?”Kate’s answer was  that she got the idea when she was cycling through the sand of the Australian outback desert. Always wanted to go to Antarctica so she thought about how she was going to ride – and what sort of bike. Cycling in sand at home, it is really hard – If it slips a bit, it can skid. She needed a system and a bike that would allow her to explore. The snow is a challenge but so beautiful.

You can follow Kate’s journey at http://kateleeming.global2.vic.edu.au

Celebrating #IWD simultaneously across 3 continents

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Three continents, two different time zones,  two classes from different countries and the guest speaker from a third country/continent for International Women’s Day.

March 8th across the world is International Women’s Day. Our school continued to celebrate it on March 9th, when Canada, USA and others on the other side of the world were still in March 8th . A special lunchtime linkup was organised with Arianne Jones, a Luge Olympic Champion for Canada. Due to time zone confusion, the primary school students became part of a later connection rather than the lunchtime linkup that we were expecting. The fascinating part of the linkup was that a school from Delhi, India became  part of our 3 way connection. The connection was organised through Skype in the Classroom and Classroom Champions.

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Arianne was an inspiring speaker who should never have been a Luge champion. She is thin and far too light in weight. Even her coach had no faith in her and gave her little opportunity initially. However, she persevered and is now the Olympic Luge champion for Canada.
When she finished speaking, Arianne encouraged Hawkesdale students to ask 5 questions, then the students from India asked 5 questions – all really interesting and forcing us to cope with the Indian accent.
She encouraged the students to “dream big and chase your dreams!!!” The response from the Indian teacher was ” our kids are so overwhelmed speaking to you.. you have been a true motivation for them” There are many wonderful opportunities on Skype in the Classroom website, many tailored for special celebatory days
@skypeclassroom @@jonesluge #IWD2017 #IWD

from india

Mark Wood – Extreme Adventurer

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It was World Book Day. To celebrate this day schools across the world were given a rare opportunity to Skype with Mark Wood – a Cold Extremes Adventurer. He has trekked across the North Pole and the South Pole and led an expedition to climb Mt Everest, taking millions of students across the world with him, by using Skype webconference in.

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I was asked whether our school would be interested in connecting with him as there were still some time slots available.Not to miss any of these wonderful opportunities, I invited the school.  For Mark, it was Thursday night at 10pm and Friday, 9am our time. We were the last school of the day. He had already been to schools in England, India, Croatia and 3 times to the USA.

Approximately 120 students from years 4-11 gathered in the library to hear Mark speak. He shared his stories, especially of his adventures to Mt Everest. His engaging speaking style, sense of humour and easy going manner endeared him to all who listened. Mark was motivating and inspiring. Unfortunately the Mt Everest expedition was called off just as they got to the death zone 200 metres from the top. One of the sherpas fell critically ill and the doctor experienced frozen feet. They made their way down and all survived.

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We see people attempting Mt Everest on the television news, read of it in the magazines or newspapers but here we were listening and interacting with someone who had actually been there. We caught the emotions, excitement, the extra details in stories and felt we experienced the adventure with him. Mark humanized the expeditions.

After 15 mins of story  telling , Mark handed over to the students to ask him questions. This was a wonderful interactivity that satisfied student curiosity and made us think of more questions.The young ones were less shy and asked most of them.

Some of their questions:

  1. What inspired you to be an explorer?
  2. How old were you when you had your first adventure?
  3. What was your favourite thing about climbing Mt Everest?
  4. Have you ever had a life threatening experience?
  5. How do you go and who do you go with?
  6. Was it cold at the North Pole?
  7. Have you ever forgotten anything?
  8. Have you had frostbite?
  9. What food and provisions do you take?

Our literacy teacher wrote new and key words on the whiteboard for discussion later. the older students immediately returned to class and wrote up some of what they learnt. When all the student stories were put together, there is almost  a complete script or picture of Mark’s presentation.

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His parting sentences reminded students that everything comes from education – if you think differently you will have a better life. The only thing preventing you is yourself. Earth will look after itself, but Mark wants to look after the human race.

Our school will continue to follow Mark on his second venture to conquer Mt Everest and be part of the new emerging stories. If you ever get an opportunity to hear Mark present, do no miss out. He was fantastic.